Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Compost Love

I don't know what it is, but I love the idea of composting.  For my last birthday, I asked for a composter- something I don't think most 27-year-olds wish for.  I was inspired by our good family friends who have a fantastic garden with an intense composting system (complete with peeing on the compost to add nitrogen- I'm not sure I'm that committed yet).  I love my plants and if I can help them grow AND put my kitchen waste to good use, why not?

My composter is pretty simple.  I have a small kitchen bucket (literally a sand bucket, I think) that I dump my food waste into.

I use compostable bags (I'd like to use them for everything, but they're a little pricey).

Then when the kitchen container fills up (or starts to get funky) I dump it in the composter.

I then sprinkle bokashi all over it to speed up the decomposition. The container comes with an inside vent-lid thingy that fortunately has a little nob handle so you don't have to touch all the mold and crazy things growing inside.

Check out all that mold- eww!
I push the vent-lid thingy down as far as I can (like a little trash compactor) and then I put the outside lid on.

It also has a nozzle at the bottom that allows me to get out any of that nutritious liquid that pool in the bottom.

And when it fills all the way up, I dump it out in the city-collected compost containers (or the trash if compost isn't available).  (Also, if I had a full dirt garden, I could bury it to let it finish decomposing and it would be less stinky and well on it's way to becoming dirt). When I was living in San Francisco, I kept the container inside and neither my roommate nor I ever noticed it smelling.  Now that I have some (very limited) outdoor space, I keep it outside to give myself more room in the kitchen.

When I first started the composter, it took a few months before anything started happening.  But eventually, I got the plant food I was hoping for!  Now again, I understand I'm probably a super-weirdo for this, but when I was packing up everything for the move down south, I poured my "plant juice" into a couple of empty liquor bottles so that I could bring it with me.  It just seemed like too much of a waste to not take it along! (You will be relieved to know I didn't bring the rest of the compost with me- that ended up in the green street container).

I do have to warn you about using the plant juice.  It smells horrendous and if you want to use it on indoor plants, it's going to make your house smell... like poop water.  It's also important to dilute it when watering your plants with it (1:100).  (Maybe they, too, will die of the stench if it's not watered down?)

The next item on my garden wish list is a worm bin, but I don't think I'm ready for it yet.  I don't want to make my current composter irrelevant, and I'm not sure I generate enough kitchen waste to support two compost apparatuses.  But maybe one day.  A girl can dream, right?

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